Cubs

CSN to air brand new documentary special chronicling White Sox superstar Jose Abreu's return to Cuba

CSN to air brand new documentary special chronicling White Sox superstar Jose Abreu's return to Cuba

“Going Home: Jose Abreu presented by the Kowalis Family of Dealerships” premieres Tuesday, January 26 at 9:30 PM CT -- Exclusively on Comcast SportsNet

Chicago, IL (January 20, 2016) – Following up its recent special on Chicago Cubs manager Joe’s Maddon return home to Hazleton, PA, Comcast SportsNet will provide viewers with yet another brand new documentary entitled Going Home: Jose Abreu presented by the Kowalis Family of Dealerships, a half-hour Comcast SportsNet Original Production profiling Major League Baseball’s first goodwill trip to Cuba in over 16 years…featuring Chicago White Sox first baseman Jose Abreu’s first return visit to his beloved home country in over two years.  Going Home: Jose Abreu premieres Tuesday, January 26 at 9:30 PM CT exclusively on Comcast SportsNet, immediately following “Blackhawks Postgame Live.”  CSN will also re-air this documentary special on Wednesday, January 27 at 7:00 PM and again on Friday, January 29 at 9:30 PM, which coincides with the opening night of SoxFest 2016 and Abreu’s 29th birthday. 

Hosted by Comcast SportsNet anchor/reporter Siera Santos and produced by Comcast SportsNet’s Senior Producer of Original Content Ryan McGuffey, Going Home: Jose Abreu takes viewers on Abreu’s emotional journey home as he not only becomes reunited with beloved family members, but also with an adoring fan base whose pride of the White Sox superstar continues to grow each and every day.  For three days back in December, Comcast SportsNet was the only television outlet in the Midwest to capture this groundbreaking MLB tour that had a primary goal of improving relations between the U.S. and Cuba, along with providing underprivileged children and their families with an opportunity to meet Abreu and other Cuban-born MLB heroes, along with a number of additional MLB stars and legends who took part in this very special moment in baseball history.

Among the highlights from Going Home include Abreu’s emotional, candid discussion about seeing his young son for the first time in over two years, along with a special interview with a Cuban teenager, who has neurological paralysis, and his mother who both discuss how meaningful Abreu and this MLB goodwill tour is to their lives, plus – this documentary will provide coverage of the instructional clinics that took place with MLB players and the many aspiring young ballplayers…and a special charity event at a Catholic church where the Cuban children performed a heartwarming Christmas concert for everyone involved in the goodwill tour.

“This was a tremendous opportunity for us to be a part of such a special moment in MLB history,” said Kevin Cross, Senior Director of News & Original Content for Comcast SportsNet Chicago.  “Viewers who may not know a lot about Jose Abreu will be given the chance to learn more about this very determined man, while at the same time taking in the sights and sounds of the country that he holds so dearly.”

In addition to the exclusive, up-close-and-personal interviews with Abreu, Going Home also includes interviews with numerous individuals who were a part of the MLB goodwill trip to Cuba including Hall of Famers Joe Torre and Dave Winfield,MLBPA president/former MLB star Tony Clark, and former White Sox shortstop/current San Diego Padres infielder Alexei Ramirez among others.      

From a digital standpoint, fans will be able to watch Going Home: Jose Abreu in its entirety on CSNChicago.com immediately following the documentary’s Jan. 26 on-air debut.  CSNChicago.com will also provide additional “web-exclusive” content from Going Home as well.  Plus - Comcast SportsNet is urging fans to share their thoughts and commentary on social media by utilizing the Twitter hashtag #CSNGoingHome during the documentary special as the network’s main Twitter handle (@CSNChicago) will be retweeting a number of fan tweets leading up to and during the Jan. 26 premiere.

Please note the following quotes from the Comcast SportsNet Original Production of Going Home: Jose Abreu presented by the Kowalis Family of Dealerships,debuting Tuesday, January 26 at 9:30 PM CT:

JOSE ABREU on his decision to defect from Cuba in 2013: “It's really hard, the story is really hard…it was the decision we made, it was the right decision.  And believe me, we have to thank god for getting us, putting us on the right path. It was really hard to leave all my family that I have here…my son, grandma, aunts.

In general, many people thought that when I made the decision, they never thought I would come back to see them.  With the grace of god, I am seeing them thanks to the Major Leagues and the Players Association for filling a space where I had a dark void in my heart.  They opened the door for me…giving me joy in a moment that I didn't have before.”

JOSE ABREU on reuniting with his son for the first time since defecting from Cuba: “I had the opportunity to see my son.  I was really happy, really happy…he is an accomplished child.  When I saw him, I began to cry.  I began to cry and it was really difficult.  All he did was give me kisses and kisses and kisses.”

JOSE ABREU on the importance of this MLB goodwill tour: “What we are doing is a historic.  This is something that has brought us tears many times.  From the first moment that we found out the news that we were going to be doing these things in this country, believe me, it's so important.”

JOSE ABREU on being a member of the Chicago White Sox:  “I have to give so much thanks to the fans of Chicago and the White Sox.  I have to be so grateful because if it weren't for them, we wouldn't be even talking about this subject.  There are no words for how grateful I am for what they did for me, that they gave me the opportunity, they gave my family the opportunity to live the life they always deserved...and all the things that made Jose Dariel Abreu the person I am today.”

JOE TORRE on his impressions of Jose Abreu: “Watching Jose Abreu, he’s got a quiet dignity about himself.  When you see him so giving to fans and youngsters, it shows you that he understands the responsibility part of being someone famous.  He appreciates the adulation and yet, he’s one of the people to me that you can’t teach that, it has to come from within.  His being humble already started when he joined the White Sox, which translates into being unselfish and, when you’re unselfish, you’re going to be a good team player.  He’s going to be the center of a very special team.” 

When Kyle Schwarber met new Cubs hitting coach Chili Davis: 'I don't suck'

When Kyle Schwarber met new Cubs hitting coach Chili Davis: 'I don't suck'

MESA, Ariz. — The first thing Kyle Schwarber told his new hitting coach?

"His first statement to me is, 'I don't suck.'"

The Cubs hired Chili Davis as the team's new hitting coach for myriad reasons. He's got a great track record from years working with the Boston Red Sox and Oakland Athletics, and that .274/.360/.451 slash line during an illustrious 19-year big league career certainly helps.

But Davis' main immediate task in his new gig will be to help several of the Cubs' key hitters prove Schwarber's assessment correct.

Schwarber had a much-publicized tough go of things in 2017. After he set the world on fire with his rookie campaign in 2015 and returned from what was supposed to be a season-ending knee injury in time to be one of the Cubs' World Series heroes in 2016, he hit just .211 last season, getting sent down to Triple-A Iowa for a stint in the middle of the season. Schwarber still hit 30 home runs, but his 2017 campaign was seen as a failure by a lot of people.

Enter Davis, who now counts Schwarber as one of his most important pupils.

"He's a worker," Davis said in an interview with NBC Sports Chicago. "Schwarbs, he knows he's a good player. His first statement to me is, 'I don't suck.' He said last year was just a fluke year. He said, 'I've never failed in my life.' And he said, 'I'm going to get back to the player that I was.'

"I think he may have — and this is my thought, he didn't say this to me — I think it may have been, he had a big World Series, hit some homers, and I think he tried to focus on being more of a home run type guy as opposed to being a good hitter.

"His focus has changed. I had nothing to do with that, he came in here with that focus that he wants to be a good hitter first and let whatever happens happen. And he's worked on that. The main thing with Kyle is going to be is just maintaining focus."

The physically transformed Schwarber mentioned last week that he's established a good relationship with Davis, in no small part because Schwarber can relate to what Davis went through when he was a player. And to hear Davis tell it, it sounds like he's describing Schwarber's first three years as a big leaguer to a T.

"Telling him my story was important because it was similar," Davis said. "I was a catcher, got to big league camp, and I was thrown in the outfield. And I hated the outfield. ... But I took on the challenge. I made the adjustment, I had a nice first year, then my second year I started spiraling. I started spiraling down, and I remember one of my coaches saying, 'I'm going to have to throw you a parachute just so you can land softly.' I got sent down to Triple-A at the All-Star break for 15 days.

"When I got sent down, I was disappointed, but I was also really happy. I needed to get away from the big league pressure and kind of find myself again. I went home and refocused myself and thought to myself, 'I'm going to come back as Chili.' Because I tried to change, something changed about me the second year.

"And when I did that, I came back the next year and someone tried to change me and I said, 'Pump the breaks a little bit, let me fail my way, and then I'll come to you if I'm failing.' And they understood that, and I had a nice year, a big year and my career took off.

"I'm telling him, 'Hey, let last year go. It happened, it's in the past. Keep working hard, maintain your focus, and you'll be fine.'"

Getting Schwarber right isn't Davis' only task, of course. Despite the Cubs being one of the highest-scoring teams in baseball last season, they had plenty of guys go through subpar seasons. Jason Heyward still has yet to find his offensive game since coming to Chicago as a high-priced free agent. Ben Zobrist was bothered by a wrist injury last season and put up the worst numbers of his career. Addison Russell had trouble staying healthy, as well, and saw his numbers dip from what they were during the World Series season in 2016.

So Davis has plenty of charges to work with. But he likes what he's seen so far.

"They work," Davis said. "They come here to work. I had a group of guys in Boston that were the same last year, and it makes my job easier. They want to get better, they come out every day, they show up, they want to work. They're excited, and I'm excited to be around them.

And what have the Cubs found out about Davis? Just about everyone answers that question the same way: He likes to talk.

"I'm not going to stop talking," he said. "If I stop talking, something's wrong."

Podcast: Which Blackhawks could be on the move before trade deadline?

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USA TODAY

Podcast: Which Blackhawks could be on the move before trade deadline?

On the latest Blackhawks Talk Podcast, Adam Burish and Pat Boyle discuss which Blackhawks could be on the trading block and what players are building blocks for the Hawks future.

Burish also shares a couple memorable trade deadline days and his “near” return to the Blackhawks in 2012. Plus, he makes his bold trade deadline prediction for the Hawks.

Listen to the full Blackhawks Talk Podcast right here: